When shocked or surprised, often by an absurdity or non sequitur, the listener may fall over onto his face, his limbs in a twisted mass above him. In its typical form, the character in question has just heard someone else say something so incredibly stupid that it, quite literally, floors them. A device usually limited to humorous anime, this may have been imported from a similar trope in early American comic strips called the "flip-take". A variation used mainly in films (as falling on one's own face in real life tends to be dangerous) has the characters briefly faint backwards, as opposed to forwards.
Frequently, this action is depicted using a single, pronounced frame transition.
Only a handful of comedians can successfully pull off a full-fledged Face Fault in live action performance; notable examples include Jim Carrey, Steve Martin, Dick Van Dyke, and Chevy Chase. Live action performers are more likely to do The Pratfall instead, which is a similar comedic trick but leaves the character on his rump.
Related to but not to be confused with the Face Plant, which is not a reaction to absurdity.
Anime and Manga
- The Sonic the Hedgehog anime has this when the old owl is explaining that he physically traveled all the way to Sonic's residence to tell him something that could have been much more easily communicated by phone.
- The second season of Ranma ½ opens every episode with a brief "blurb" describing the premise which then ends with the entire Tendō family facefaulting upon witnessing Ranma's transformation. Facefaults are also common sight gags in both the manga and the anime. Rumiko Takahashi does it with the characters' hands usually extended, middle and ring (and index?) fingers folded while the pinkie/index and thumb stick out.
- The hand-sign is basically the familiar "horns", and is used in Japan to deflect evil eye.
- Played with in an episode of Zoids: New Century Zero. At the very beginning of a Humongous Mecha tournament, the judges refer to the Tigers team as the Fuzzy Pandas team (a Running Gag first started by the main character), which causes their zoids to facefault. This freezes their combat system, and thus disqualifies them from the tournament.
- During moments when he seems Too Dumb to Live, Judai of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX frequently elicits this response from his friends, teachers, strangers, and even inanimate objects like a road sign (see episode 66 for the last one).
- Kagome's command of "Osuwari!" ("Sit, boy!") causes Inu-Yasha to do an automatic Face Fault, though that's more of a mystical means of keeping Inu-Yasha under control than a reaction to stupidity.
- Although most of the time, it is because Inu-Yasha has done something extraordinarily stupid.
- Also, on occasion she has used this command in rapid-fire succession, even going so far in the first movie as to literally drive him into the ground! (But at least he saved the ramen!)
- Dragon Ball sometimes had scenes such as this, but there were two notable ones during the Afterlife Tournament filler arc. First, a rather easy foe that Goku is fighting suddenly wraps himself in a cocoon, his trainer bragging that he'll eventually come out stronger than before. Unfortunately, he also says the metamorphosis will complete in 1200 years, causing Goku and the referees to face fault (Dragonball Z episode 196). Afterwards, Goku wins by default; then, two minor characters, Torbie and Tapikar face off. The latter shows off his blinding speed just before the match, intimidating the former; when the fight begins, Tapikar charges at Torbie, but stops, exhausted, and forfeits. This causes everyone in the arena to facefault. Including the audience. Who facefaults in waves. (Dragonball Z episode 197)
- The very first audience-wide face fault occurs in the first tournament arc (Dragon Ball episode 21, about halfway through). Just before the main matches begin, the master monk of the temple hosting the tournament (Who is a dog) steps up for a few choice words. He takes the mic...
- Used again during Goku's fight with Namu. Goku spins himself so fast that he becomes a miniature tornado and manages to force Namu to the edge of the ring...before getting dizzy and collapsing right in front of him. In response, Namu nearly face faults out of the ring, but he manages to save himself.
- Another one was during the Majin Buu saga when Goten and Trunks first tried to fuse seriously in front of everyone. The first attempt resulted in a very chubby Gotenks. As Gotenks tries to jog in his newly fused body he stops moving for a second...then starts heaving in exhaustion, giving up. Everyone facefaults.
- One of the best face faults in DBZ history is when Trunks tells Goku his parentage...Vegeta is his father, and his mother...Bulma. Goku's reaction was not only this trope-but flat out laughing in sheer disbelief! Meanwhile, far away from this private conversation, Piccolo with his accute hearing, picks up on the entire conversation, And nearly facefaults himself.
- The Dark Tournament arc of Yu Yu Hakusho featured this several times (most memorably when a contestant abruptly left the ring in the middle of his power-up to go vomit), but it was usually reserved for the comic relief characters of Koenma and Jorge. The dub hangs a lampshade on this when Koenma yells at Jorge to get up because "surprise time's over".
- In Aria the characters' faces often become very deformed when they get emotional - sometimes to the extent of getting creepy.
- Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan has some of the most humorous (though sometimes they can get creepy as well) facefaults and exaggerated expressions that one will ever find.
- Ken Akamatsu seems to be fond of these. Mahou Sensei Negima tends to have many overly exaggerated facefaults that send characters flying around as if standing next to an explosion of some sort. Especially Ausna.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has one of these in the first episode when Nanoha is trying to persuade her family to let her take care of a "ferret" - cough, cough - that she found injured in the woods. Her father asks what a ferret is, and Nanoha Face Faults...though at a much lesser extreme than expected from this trope.
- One episode of Pokémon (The Mandarin Island Miss Match, episode 99) has the Team Rocket trio facefault out of their balloon while it was in the air after
PrimaLorelei said she records her lectures on tape and sells them for $18.95. To be fair, Ash, Misty, and Tracey face faulted immediately beforehand.
- This happens quite often on Cardcaptor Sakura.
- Watanuki Kimihiro of ×××HOLiC does this quite often.
- School Rumble: Everybody, all the damn time.
- Keroro Gunsou is a living magnet of these. Of special note: the Third Movie, which features the new Dark Keroro, whose design practically screams Evil Twin. And what's Keroro's first assumption? It's his long-lost twin brother. His remaining platoonmates nearly flip. Cue the soap-opera parody.
- The title sequence for season 6 shows Keroro getting this reaction from an entire Keronian battalion.
- There are a lot more of these in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood than in the 2003 anime version. Fitting, as it follows the manga's art (and story) much more closely. There are a lot of facefaults in the manga.
- The Australian official release even references it by name.
Ed "Is it some weird Xingese culture to facefault at will?!"
- Clannad After Story:
Akio: Sanae has huge boobs, you know?
- Also one great scene in 23rd (extra) episode of Clannad when Tomoya is having an absurd conversation with Nagisa:
Nagisa: (offering him her bread) Would you like a bite?
- Fuko goes on the loudspeaker system. ("Those are starfish" * whole school facefaults* )
- Kyou at one point facefaults so hard she knocks a door down in the process.
- Occasionally seen in the Sailor Moon anime; a particular example that comes to mind is the Sailor Moon S episode with Usagi's birthday, where the girls do this twice in the same scene: first when Usagi admits that she never told Mamoru about her birthday, and then when it turns out she doesn't know when his is either.
- On one occasion the girls were admiring a modern art statue with the Starlights and when Yaten announces its enormous price, Rei faceplants straight onto it, almost knocking it over.
- In episode five of Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Hachiyou Shou Tenma has this reaction when Akane expresses concern over the possibility of Yorihisa commiting Seppuku after she fell into a river because of him; although Tenma then comments that, this being Yorihisa, such outcome is possible...
- In episode 18 of the D Gray Man anime, the entire science team of the Black order and Lavi does a collective facefault when Allen pulls the giant octopus off his head, to show a smaller one underneath.
- In Gurren Lagann, Leeron makes a comment that manages to elicit this response from the aircraft-carrier-sized Dai-Gurren.
- Occurs in the 12th episode of Ookamikakushi when one girl's grandfather who just put on quite a badass display, asks someone to call an ambulance because he strained his hip.
- Happens to Mikan in Gakuen Alice with an almost sadistic frequency.
- Infinite Stratos does this when Ichika is about to do something, only for him to declare that, that's it. Cue everyone in the class face-faulting.
- Commonly done early on in Rosario + Vampire, most often by Tsukune. A particularly nice one can be found here.
- In Hidamari Sketch, when the tenants of the apartments are in Miyako's room, trying to come up with reasons why the rent on it is so much cheaper than theirs, Hiro brings up some old nicknames for the apartments: "Chidamari" (bloody) and "Odamari" (be quiet). This latter name is followed by an overhead view of Sae's, Miyako's, and Yuno's legs as they've suddenly lain down in reaction to it.
- Yoshinoya-sensei also elicits one from those involved in the Cinderella play. After they'd finished, she burst through the curtains, crying. You might think, as they probably did, that she'd been overcome by the emotion of the moment, but no, she started complaining that the principal wouldn't let her hold a concert for the festival.
- In Blue Exorcist, someone's mobile phone goes off during the sports lesson. Bon does a Face Fault when the teacher of all people answers his phone.
- Crayon Shin-chan, usually thanks to something stupid Shin has said or done:
Shin: You guys fall down a lot when I talk.
- Rurouni Kenshin: Kenshin politely refuses a lady's offer to stay at her inn. She calls him a cheapskate, despite him carrying a sword, rather bluntly, and he faceplants right away, then another lady appears, and the first tells him to forget about him since he's a cheapskate before he can even stand up, so this time he flip-takes to end on his back!
- in Ultimate Teacher Ganbachi and Karima do this when they're charging against each other and get interrupted by Hinako.
Films -- Live Action
- Abruptly cornered by his vindictive boss at a bad moment, whom he earlier insulted and then managed to escape several times throughout the film, Fletcher Reed in Liar Liar squawks "God in Heaven!" and pulls off the rare live-action Face Fault as only Jim Carrey can.
- In a very early incarnation of this, The Three Stooges do one in "Men in Black," reacting to a goofy nurse's absurd definition of a pippin.
- Psyche-outs in Baseketball often had this effect on their victims.
Live Action TV
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 3. Faith is moping about failing to kill Buffy. The Mayor says:
"I have two words to put a smile on that dial. Miniature. Golf." (Faith stares at him for a moment, then cracks up.)
- Kamen Rider Den-O, essentially a live-action Anime, absolutely adores the facefault, but it happened best in episode 15. When Airi learns that her brother is being held hostage, she's totally nonchalant until pressed, at which point she declares her intent to make him some "special hostage snacks", eliciting a Face Fault out of the coffee shop's entire patronage.
- One of the bloopers in Whose Line Is It Anyway? consists of Brad Sherwood starting off a Hoedown with: "I was feeling frisky; I went for a drive./I took all my handguns and shot myself alive...I..." and Brad then slowly facefaulted at his own failure to make sense.
- A frequent skit on 1960s Variety Show The Andy Williams Show was a bear (played by Janos Prohaska) showing up at Andy's door in hopes of being invited in for a snack of milk and cookies. Williams angrily shouted at him, almost always including the words, "Not now; not ever! Never!" and slammed the door in the bear's face. The bear would then turn toward the camera and fall forward, body and limbs not bending at all.
- In a Chilean comic strip called Condorito, the punch line would almost inevitably end with the victim of the punch line falling on his/her ass with a loud ¡PLOP!
- Occurs after every punchline in paleolithic newspaper comic Jerry on the Job, making this one Older Than Radio.
- Often parodied in Tom the Dancing Bug every time the cartoonist does "Super Fun Pack Comix", which pretty much tackles every single cliches found in daily newspaper comics.
- Happens a few times in Thimble Theater. In one strip, Lubry Kent Oyl is showing his family his rare pet, the whiffle hen Bernice;
Castor Oyl:Bernice, a she, eh?
- Frequently occurs in the Bert-and-Ernie sketches on Sesame Street.
- Mario and his friends do a lot of facefaulting in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.
- Lots of facefaulting in Mario & Luigi too.
- Mario has one in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door when Professor Frankly doesn't recognize him.
- He also elicits a second one when he can't figure out what the map means. His final phrase before the face fault was a loud shout of 'I DON'T KNOW'
- Jack Brothers, one of the possible Combination Attacks in Persona 3, involves Jack Frost and Pyro Jack performing a terrible comedy routine. This causes all affected enemies to Face Fault, opening themselves up to a follow-up attack.
- Lampshaded in the second episode of Girlchan in Paradise. The roof was kinda slippery.
- Happens from time to time in Super Mario Bros Z. One notable time is when E Gadd concedes that it would make more sense to make another emerald radar rather than a radar radar, but that he just didn't think of it.
- In RWBY S1E15, the rest of the team facefaults when Ruby assures Penny that they are friends.
- See the last panel of this page of Girl Genius.
- On the opposite end of the scale, Airman Third Class Axel Higgs has long since lost the capacity to be surprised by anything.
- Used straight in this Gastrophobia strip. Then invoked and weaponized in this strip.
- And reaching truely epic proportions in this guest strip.
- In Everyday Heroes, the cause was more amazement at Uma's skill, but the end result was the same.
- Synthea invokes this trope in #98 when the titular character makes a "stunning" reveal, causing one of the cricket ninjas to drop out of his hiding place.
- Happens a lot in the anime inspired comic Twokinds
- Happens twice in one page here
- Poor Noah of El Goonish Shive does one here, while sitting down. Warning: spoilers ahoy.
- Hark! A Vagrant had Richard Feynman induce a classic flip-take in this guest strip by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick.
- Happens occasionally in Better Days, and the successor comic, Original Life.
- Deconstructed in Kappa Mikey; the anime-styled Japanese characters do this frequently while Mikey (who is a cartoon-styled American) tries, but never succeeds.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Rainbow Dash does this in the Cold Opening for "Sonic Rainboom", in response to Fluttershy's meek attempts at cheering.